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Nuala Nuala | 15:39 UK time, Thursday, 11 March 2010

Hi Emilio,

Your energy amazes me! Doing a 60 kilometre bike ride is really impressive, especially for someone who hasn't been on a bike for almost six months. Well done you!

The pilgrimage to Navarre sounds fascinating, and the photos in your last blog were stunning. My favourite one was of the Sagrada Família. It's just such an incredible building, isn't it? I've been to Barcelona quite a few times and am always overawed by all the amazing architecture.

Thanks too for your reading recommendations. The last great Spanish book I read (in English!) was The Shadow of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. I've since bought the prequel - The Angel's Game - but haven't got round to reading it yet. Have you read any of his books? If you have, let me know what you think of them.

I thought today we'd look at a few things - agreement, parallel structures and the future perfect.

In English we don't have quite as many agreement rules as other languages (like Spanish for example) but we still need a few things to agree with a few other things to create correct English sentences.

A: Nouns and verbs - singular and plural nouns need to agree with the verbs they are paired with).
His bike is impressive. (singular)
His bikes are impressive. (plural)

B: Verbs and time - verbs have to agree with a time aspect. If you use yesterday in a sentence, then your verbs will most likely be in a past tense. For example:

Last year we went to Mexico and ate lots of fantastic food. (past tense verbs for past activities)
Every day she rides her bike to work. She thinks it keeps her fit. (present tense verbs for daily habits)

So, here's your first homework task. Can you find a way to correct the agreement mistake in this sentence from your blog?

1. Several people has requested...

Parallel structures
In English to make our writing flow smoothly we need to keep our structures parallel. What does that mean? Well, if we start a description with an adjective, we need to continue with adjectives if we add more to our description. For example, this structure isn't parallel:

The film was romantic and sadness.

Can you see why? Romantic is an adjective and sadness is a noun. To create a parallel structure you need to use two adjectives or two nouns, but not a mixture of the two. Here are two correct versions:

The film was romantic and sad. (adjectives)

The film had romance and sadness. (nouns)

Your second homework task combines aspects of agreement and parallel structure. Can you find a singular/plural and an adjective/noun mistake in this one sentence? Then, once you find them, can you fix them?

2. The people from this region of Spain is more friendly and openness.

Future perfect
The future perfect is a tense that we don't use that much in English, but sometimes it's just the right structure for what we want to express. We use the future perfect to say that a particular thing will be finished or completed by a certain time in the future. For example:

They will have watched 25 films by the time the film festival is over.
She will have written another novel by the end of the year.

We create the future perfect with will + have + past participle (or third part of the verb) drunk, sat, worked, thought, written etc. For example:

He will have eaten far too much ice-cream by the time the party has finished.
We will have known each other for a month by the end of March 2010.

There's also a continuous form of the present perfect that uses will + have + been + base verb. For example:

They will have been working together for 25 years by 2015.
She will have been teaching this class for a long time by the time she retires.

So, here's your third and final homework task. Can you figure out where the present perfect should go in this sentence?

3. ... this weekend [will be] the first time I will go on bike since October last year.

Your homework from last time
Thanks for doing your last homework task so well. I've just got a couple of comments to make about it - which I've marked as Nuala says:
[Wrong] 1. ... a perfect excuse to have a dinner.
[OK] 1. ... a perfect excuse to have dinner.
Nuala says: Excellent!

[Wrong] 3. ... the bull has showed an exceptional performance and being brave
[OK] 3. ... the bull has shown an exceptional performance and was brave
Nuala says: Good try. But it should be (present perfect):
... the bull has shown an exceptional performance and has been brave

[Wrong] 4. ...villages have ... festivals in honour to his patron saint.
[OK] 4. ...villages have ... festivals in honour to its patron saint.
Nuala says: Again, good try but it should be (plural pronoun to match villages):
...villages have ... festivals in honour to their patron saints.

[Wrong] 5. In Tudela ... Santa Ana is his patron saint.
[OK] 5. In Tudela ... Santa Ana is her patron saint.
Nuala says: Actually we don't usually use she for cities - although we do for countries. I know - English! Where's the logic?. It should be:
In Tudela ... Santa Ana is its patron saint.

I liked this correction:
"We've known each other since we were 17 years old"
Nuala says: Perfect!

I made a silly mistake with the New York sentence.
"New York possibly was the city we enjoyed [the most]."
Nuala says: Exactly (though to make it sound even better, you could say 'New York was possibly the city we enjoyed the most.')

That's all for now. Looking forward to your next blog.


stunning - extremely beautiful or attractive
overawed - overwhelmed or impressed
prequel - if a film or book tells a main story or film, a prequel tells the story that happened before the main or first one
express - say or show


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